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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    ARTISTIC    LIFE                     28l

and architecture. In the lines and composition of Chinese
painting and in the forms and structures of Chinese archi-
tecture, we shall be able to recognize the principles developed
from Chinese calligraphy. These basic ideas of rhythm, form
and atmosphere give the different lines of Chinese art, like
poetry, painting, architecture, porcelain and house decorations,
an essential unity of spirit.

III. PAINTING

Chinese painting, the flower of Chinese culture, is dis-
tinguished by a spirit and an atmosphere all its own, entirely
different from Western painting. It is as different from Western
painting as Chinese poetry is different from Western poetry.
That difference is hard to grasp and express. It has a certain
tone and atmosphere, visible in Western painting, but essen-
tially different and achieved by different means. It shows a
certain economy of material, marked by the many blank spaces,
an idea of composition determined by its own harmony and
marked by a certain "rhythmic vitality/' and a boldness and
freedom of the brush which impress the onlooker in an unfor-
gettable manner. Somehow the picture before us has under-
gone an inner process of transformation in the artist's mind,
shorn of its irrelevancies, its disharmonies, and giving us only a
completely satisfying whole, so true to life and yet so different
from it. The design is more obvious, the elimination of material
more rigidly carried out, the points of contrast and concen-
tration easier to trace, and we decidedly feel that the artist
has interfered with the material reality and presented it to us
only as it appears to him, without losing its essential likeness
or intelligibility to others. It is subjective without the violent
assertions of the artist's ego in the modern Western painting,
and without the latter's unintelligibility to us common men. It
manages to achieve a decidedly subjective appearance of
things without making contortions. It does not try to paint all
before one's eyes, and it leaves a great deal to the onlooker's
imagination, without degenerating into a geometric puzzle.
Sometimes the concentration on the immediate object is so